The Glory of Zion Will Be a Defense
Isaiah describes the condition of the world in the last days.
Isaiah counsels the faithful to stand in holy places.
Isaiah describes the gathering of Israel in the latter days.
Isaiah responded willingly to his call to be a prophet.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to avoid the evils of the world by
standing in holy places and help us draw strength from Isaiah’s willingness to
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 36 Handout (PDF)
Introduction To The Book of Isaiah
The Importance of Isaiah's Writings
WHAT THOUGHTS COME TO MIND WHEN I MENTION THE BOOK OF ISAIAH?
The writings of Isaiah are quoted in other scriptures more often than those
of any other prophet.
Book of Mormon: 414 verses quoted. There are a total of 1,292
verses in the book of Isaiah.
About 32% of the book of Isaiah.
Another 3% was paraphrased.
The Nephite prophets considered the writings of Isaiah to be
of great worth. Why else would they use valuable space on the plates?
New Testament: Isaiah is quoted at least 57 times.
Doctrine & Covenants: About 100 references either by quoting,
paraphrasing, or interpretation.
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THE WRITINGS OF ISAIAH ARE SO IMPORTANT THAT THEY HAVE
BEEN QUOTED THROUGHOUT THE SCRIPTURES?
"And I did read many things
unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more
fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto
them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all
scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning." (1
"And now I, Nephi, write more
of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will
liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my
children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him." (2
"Wherefore, they are of worth
unto the children of men, and he that supposeth that they are not, unto
them will I speak particularly, and confine the words unto mine own people;
for I know that they shall be of great worth unto them in the last days;
for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have
I written them." (2 Nephi 25:8)
OF WHAT VALUE ARE THE WORDS OF ISAIAH TO THOSE OF US LIVING IN THESE MODERN
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "It just may
be that my salvation (and yours also!) does in fact depend upon our ability
to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood
them." (Ensign, Oct 1973, p78)
Keys To Understanding Isaiah
Nephi said that Isaiah spoke "many
things which were hard for the people to understand" (2 Nephi
25:1) and that his words "are not plain"
(2 Nephi 25:4). I would have to agree with Nephi. We need some help
as we try to understand the words of Isaiah. Some of the ideas below
are based on an article by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in the October 1973
Ensign entitled Ten Keys To Understanding Isaiah.
Pay the price in study and effort.
When speaking of Isaiah's writing, the Lord commanded the ancient Nephites
to "search these things diligently"
(3 Nephi 23:1).
How many have searched the teachings and prophecies of Isaiah "diligently"? If we have not done so, how can we possibly expect to understand his teachings?
WHAT MIGHT A DILIGENT SEARCH INVOLVE?
Have the spirit of prophecy.
Nephi said that the words of Isaiah "are plain
unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy"
(2 Nephi 25:4).
WHAT IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY?
"...for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of
prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).
DO WE HAVE SUCH A TESTIMONY? IF NOT, HOW DO WE OBTAIN THAT TESTIMONY?
Understand the manner of prophesying of the Jews.
A good Bible commentary is a useful tool in assisting us in better understanding
the ancient Jews.
The Law of Moses: One needs to understand the law. The Jews
were so familiar with the Law that a particular word or phrase would bring
immediate understanding and no further explanation would be necessary. Today we have such words and phrases in the Church. Examples
might include: the Word of Wisdom, Cumorah, or "lengthen your stride."
As members of the Church these phrases embody entire concepts that would
require explanation to those not familiar with our culture.
Imagery and figurative language: Isaiah made constant use of metaphors,
similes, analogies, parables, and types and shadows that were familiar
to the Hebrew people.
Dualism and esoteric terms: Isaiah's writings often have more than
one meaning or fulfillment.
Become familiar with the geography of the Holy Land and the surrounding
Isaiah made frequent references to the local area.
Isaiah also used geography figuratively. Example: Babylon was a symbol
Learn of the judgments of God and the fulfillment of his prophecies.
The Lord is consistent in his dealings with his children in all ages of
Understand the historical setting of Isaiah's writings.
It is important to understand the history of the Hebrew people.
Isaiah prophesied about distinct periods of time. Knowing which historical
period Isaiah was writing about aids in our understanding. Unfortunately,
Isaiah did not write chronologically.
The four prophetic periods of which Isaiah wrote:
Events before and during the fall of Israel to Assyria (800-700 BC).
Events before and during the fall of Judah, the Babylonian captivity, and
the Jewish return to Palestine (primarily 635-535 BC).
Events related to the ministry of Christ (in the Meridian of time).
Events during the Last Days (beginning with the restoration of the Gospel).
Know the chief doctrines about which Isaiah chose to write.
Isaiah's doctrinal contributions fall into seven categories:
Restoration of the gospel in the latter-days through Joseph Smith.
Latter-day gathering of Israel and her final triumph and glory.
Coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
Apostate conditions of the nations of the world in the latter days.
Messianic prophecies relative to our Lord's first coming.
Second coming of Christ and the millennial reign.
Historical data and prophetic utterances relative to his own day.
Use the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon quoted and frequently commented on the writings of Isaiah.
Study all the scriptures.
A knowledge and understanding of the plan of salvation and God's dealings
with his earthly children aid in the comprehension of Isaiah's complex
Use the edition of the Bible published by the Church.
The system of footnotes contains references to the topical guide and all
four standard works.
The footnotes contain alternate translations of words from the Hebrew.
The chapter headings contain useful summaries.
The map section and Bible dictionary contain helpful information.
Like the gospel itself, Isaiah is understood "line upon line".
The name Isaiah means "Jehovah has saved".
He was a son of Amoz (not Amos the prophet).
Rabbinic tradition says that Isaiah's father was a brother to king Amaziah. If true, then Isaiah was a cousin of king Uzziah and therefore
of royal blood.
A tradition in the Talmud says that Isaiah was martyred by being tied to
two planks and then being sawed in half with a wooden saw.
Brother Duane S. Crowther: "Isaiah is a
statesman and a member of Jerusalem's ruling class. He is well acquainted
with the society and political intrigues of the capital city of Jerusalem
and shows much interest in the political events of his time. He is a capable
author and speaker. His writing reflects his culture and refinement."
(Prophets & Prophecies of the Old Testament, p299)
He prophesied to both Israel and Judah.
Contemporary prophets: Hosea and Micah.
National conditions in both Israel and Judah:
Political decay was evident.
Power had become concentrated in Jerusalem.
Corrupt judges aided their friends in robbing the poor.
Greater social and moral decay than at previous times was found in Judah
High and unequal taxation.
Historical information based on Prophets and Prophecies of the Old
Testament, pp. 297-303.
Periods of Prophetic Fulfillment
||Period 2 - Events relative to Judah (primarily 635-535 BC)
||Period 4 - Events during the Last Days
||Period 2 - Events relative to Judah (primarily 635-535 BC)
||Period 4 - Events during the Last Days
||Period 2 - Events relative to Judah (primarily 635-535 BC)
||Period 1 - Events before & during the fall of Israel to Assyria
Condition Of The World In The Last Days
Many of Isaiah's warnings and prophecies were dualistic in nature.
They often applied both to his time and the latter days. As you read
the following verses, consider how the conditions described are evident
in the world today.
Isaiah 1:3-5. Israel has forsaken the Lord and rebelled.
Though Isaiah was writing about ancient Judah, does this condition exist
in the world today? How is that evident?
Isaiah 1:11-15. Religious ceremonies without meaning or faith.
Again, Isaiah was writing about ancient Judah, but so many events in the
scriptures are types of things to come and should be a warning to those
of us in our own time. Is this condition prevalent in today's world?
At the time of the Joseph Smith's first vision, the Lord said of the people
at that time, "they draw near to me with their
lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments
of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof"
(JS History 1:19). Have things improved since 1820?
Isaiah 2:7-8. Worship of worldly things and military security (horses
and chariots were used as instruments of war in ancient times).
What does the world worship? Where does the world look for security?
Isaiah 2:11-12. Pride.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Pride is characterized
by 'What do I want out of life?' rather than by 'What would God have me
do with my life?' It is self-will as opposed to God's will. It is the fear
of man over the fear of God." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,
How is this condition in evidence today?
Isaiah 3:5. Oppression of other people and failing to honor older
Isaiah 3:9. No shame for sin.
Though Isaiah was again speaking of ancient Judah, indeed this is a foreshadowing
of the modern world.
Isaiah 3:14-15. Taking advantage of the poor and failing to care
How is this happening today?
How different would the world be today if profit was not the main motive? What about the landlord who raises his rents as high as the market will
bear, rather than trying to provide affordable and comfortable housing
to those who have insufficient means? What about politicians who
use the poor as an tool to advance their agendas rather than finding efficient
means for assisting the poor?
Isaiah 3:16-24. Emphasis on outward physical beauty at the expense
of righteousness and good character.
Though Isaiah was writing of the ancient Jews, he must have had our day
in mind when he wrote this. How many commercials on television do
we see about the importance of looking and smelling good? In contrast,
how many commercials do we see that encourage righteousness and good character?
Isaiah 5:8. Greedy desires to own more and more material things.
In chapter 5, Isaiah was again specifically writing about the ancient Jews. His time was indeed a type of our day.
It almost seems as if there is a race on to see how much we can accumulate
and the world caters to it. Some pursue wealth and property, others
material goods. On any given weekend one can attend a boat show,
RV show, car show, home show, computer show, or some other kind of trade show
that caters to this insatiable desire for more and more.
Isaiah 5:11-12. Constantly seeking worldly pleasures instead of seeking
the Lord and his work.
Hugh Nibley says that Isaiah "describes the party-people,
the fast set" (Old Testament and Related Studies, p223).
There does not seem to be much difference between the Jews of Isaiah's time
and many people in our time.
Isaiah 5:20. Saying that evil things are good and good things are
The parallels with our day are uncanny. In today's "politically correct"
world, a person is a radical right-winger if one calls himself or herself
a faithful Christian, but it is outrageous to call someone with an "alternative"
lifestyle a sinner. In Isaiah's time, the ultimate consequence for
the way the people lived was destruction and captivity. Where are
President Spencer W. Kimball: "Infidelity
is one of the great sins of our generation. The movies, the books, the
magazine stories all seem to glamorize the faithlessness of husbands and
wives. Nothing is holy, not even marriage vows. The unfaithful woman is
the heroine and is justified, and the hero is so built up that he can do
no wrong. It reminds us of Isaiah who said: 'Wo unto those who call evil
good, and good evil; . . .' (Isaiah 5:20)." (CR, Oct 1962)
Isaiah 5:21. Trusting in oneself instead of God.
President N. Eldon Tanner: "The last days
are here and now, and Paul's prophecy is being fulfilled before our very
eyes. Men are refusing sound doctrine, and after their own lusts they are
turning their ears from the truth and are listening to those who preach
to their own liking. As a result, we are suffering many tribulations throughout
the world. We have reached a time in our history which I believe is the
most crucial mankind has ever had to face." (CR, Oct 1968)
Isaiah 5:24. Despising the commandments and word of God.
Throughout the media today, in news reports and opinion polls, we see people
believing that what one does in private, is one's own business and does
not matter. But consider the words of a prophet of God,
"Let me say that I still believe that right is
right, and wrong is wrong. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not
steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. These aren't suggestions, these
are commandments. Given by Jehovah on Sinai - the Ten Commandments. They're
as applicable today as they were when they were first given."
(Gordon B. Hinckley interview with Larry King, CNN, Sep 8, 1998)
Stand In Holy Places
ISAIAH 4:5-6. The Lord to create a refuge.
WHAT PLACES OFFER SAFETY FROM THE WORLDLY CONDITIONS MENTIONED BY ISAIAH?
In these verses, Isaiah mentions three holy places of refuge:
"every dwelling place of mount Zion"
(v5) or our homes.
"assemblies" (v5) or our stakes, wards,
"tabernacle" (v6) or temples.
HOW CAN EACH OF THESE HOLY PLACES OFFER REFUGE FROM THE WICKEDNESS OF THE
Each day we go out into the world to work, attend school, shop,
or play. We are assaulted on almost every side by the evils of the
world. How wonderful it is that we have homes to which we can return. A place where we can close the door and shut off the world. A place
where we are loved. A place we can pray alone and with our families. A home is truly a refuge from the "storms" of the world.
President David O. McKay: "A child has the
right to feel that in his home he has a place of refuge, a place of protection
from the dangers and evils of the outside world. Family unity and integrity
are necessary to supply this need." (CR, Apr 1945)
Our stakes, wards, and branches:
It is here that we renew our fellowship with the Saints and are strengthened
by their testimonies. It is here that we can learn more of the gospel
and be strengthened by its teachings. Like our homes, this is a place
we can close the doors to the "storms" of the world.
The temples provide an extraordinary refuge from the world. Its spirit
and peace calm the soul and strengthen the individual for his return to
the battles of life.
ISAIAH 2:2-3. Mountain of the Lord's house
to be established.
HOW DO YOU INTERPRET THIS OFT QUOTED PROPHECY FROM ISAIAH?
Lorenzo Snow said that the Saints "exodus to the
Rocky Mountains and their sojourn in the stakes of Zion, as the places
are called which they now inhabit, they regard as preparatory to that return,
and as events that had to be in order to fulfill scripture, notably these
words of Isaiah" (Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p182-183).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "With the restoration
of the gospel and the setting up of the ecclesiastical kingdom of God on
earth, the restoration of the true government of God commenced. Through
this Church and kingdom a framework has been built through which the full
government of God will eventually operate. With the ushering in of the
millennial era the present ecclesiastical kingdom will be expanded into
a political kingdom also, and then both civil and ecclesiastical affairs
will be administered through it. Then there will be two great world capitals,
and the law shall go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
(Isa. 2:1-4.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p338)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "In the great day
of restoration—a day that has commenced, but in which many things yet remain
to be restored—there will finally be two world capitals, both called Zion,
both called Jerusalem. One shall be the seat of government, the other the
spiritual capital of the world, for out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Isa. 2:1-5.) That is to say,
Jerusalem of old shall be restored, built up anew in glory and beauty,
according to the promises, and also, another Jerusalem, a New Jerusalem,
shall be established." (Mortal Messiah, 1:95)
It is important to note that in this prophecy, the people go up "to
the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob"
to learn of the Lord. The modern temple is the preeminent refuge
from the "world" that stands as a beacon to all those seeking shade. Going back to Isaiah 4:6, it is interesting that Isaiah uses the phrase,
"And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow
in the daytime from the heat." Many of us have just concluded
summer and probably enjoyed excursions to the park and picnics. Where
do we look for a picnic table? Out in the burning sun? We usually
look for a table in the shade of a tree or a pavilion. It is a gathering
place. And so are modern temples. They are where we gather
as places of refuge from the ways of the world. Isaiah's prophecy
continues to be fulfilled as we build temple after temple and people gather
"to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of
the God of Jacob."
The Gathering of Israel In The Latter-Days
ISAIAH 5:26-29. An ensign to be lifted
to the nations.
WHAT IS THIS ENSIGN?
The Hebrew word for "ensign" is nec (nace), meaning something lifted
up, a standard, a signal, a signal pole, a banner, or a sign. It
is also a standard, as in a rallying point.
The ensign referred to in this verse is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
The Hebrew word for hiss is sharaq (shaw-rak'). Among the
possible definitions is to whistle, as to signal. In the military,
a trumpet has been used to signal troops. The Church has issued the
signal or invitation to the nations of the earth to gather to the Church.
HOW IS THIS PROPHECY BEING FULFILLED?
Missionaries are being sent, in increasing numbers, to the nations of the
earth to gather to the Church.
Elder LeGrand Richards: "Since there were
no such things as trains and airplanes in that day, Isaiah could hardly
have mentioned them by name, but he seems to have described them in unmistakable
words. How better could 'their horses' hoofs be counted like flint, and
their wheel like a whirlwind' than in the modern train? How better could
'Their roaring . . . be like a lion' than in the roar of the airplane?
Trains and airplanes do not stop for night. Therefore, was not Isaiah justified
in saying 'none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their
loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken'? With this manner
of transportation the Lord can really 'hiss unto them from the end of the
earth,' that 'they shall come with speed swiftly'." (A Marvelous
Work and a Wonder, p230)
WHAT CAN EACH OF US DO TO HELP FULFILL THIS PROPHECY?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Nephi wrote concerning the writings of Isaiah,
"I know that they shall be of great worth unto them in the
last days" (2 Nephi 25:8). Nephi's statement is a warning to those of us
living at this time in history to study and heed the words of Isaiah. Ancient
Israel and Judah did not heed the Lord's warnings and they were destroyed. We
see in Isaiah's time a type for our time. We need to learn the lessons of
history. We need to put wickedness away, stand in holy places, and endeavor to
do our part in carrying the ensign to the world.
Record your thoughts on Isaiah and his prophecies. How do
these ancient prophecies apply to you.
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Old Testament and Related Studies by Hugh Nibley.
Prophets & Prophecies of the Old Testament by Duane S. Crowther.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
Teachings of Lorenzo Snow.
The Mortal Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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